With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 on general release today, Geektowner Faith braved the late night showing to bring us this review:
Lord Voldemort once said ‘I confess myself disappointed.’ I know how he felt.
Granted, he was talking about having waited 13 years to return to power and his disconcertion that some of his followers had given him up for dead. I, however, waited 13 years to see JK Rowling’s astonishing series of novels brought to the big screen in all their glory complete with show-stopping conclusion, and was disconcerted that despite an epic, magnificent plot, a first class thespian cast, and SURELY a near-unlimited budget, that conclusion fell short of the mark.
Firstly, you need to understand that I had seriously high expectations. I’m one of those who reads and re-reads the novels, listens to the audiobooks on planes, and queues up at midnight to buy the books and see the movies. The anticipation of waiting for the Deathly Hallows parts 1&2 nearly killed me. Thus, with part 2 on general release today (July 15th) I was in my seat at 10.45pm last night, armed with caffeine and a box of tissues, awaiting the 00.01 showing. I’ve read the book so many times I’m almost word-perfect, and I had a very clear vision in my mind, aided by the dramatic trailer, of what to expect.
I’m not going to give any spoilers here. I will say that those who have read the books as avidly as myself need to lower their expectations substantially, while those who haven’t will no doubt enjoy every minute.
The acting is stellar. We’ve all watched Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson grow up on-screen and as they reach the emotional conclusion to the ten-year franchise it’s hard not feel a little emotional – they’ve come a long way as the unlikely heroes. The supporting cast, made up of respected thespians Alan Rickman – who has waited ten years to really shine as Severus Snape – Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, Maggie Smith as the feisty Professor McGonnagall, Julie Walters as Molly Weasley, Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn, Helena Bonham-Carter as Voldemort’s most trusted lieutenant Bellatrix Lestrange, and, of course, Ralph Fiennes as Potter’s arch-nemesis Voldemort, all come into their own, and the Hogwarts students Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) all act their socks off to bring the spell-binding series to a close.
The plot takes up (as you’d expect) immediately from part one – Voldemort has the Elder Wand, the formidable weapon that will make him indestructible. Unbeknownst to him, Harry, Hermione and Ron are in a race against time to identify and locate his remaining horcruxes, and destroy the concealed pieces of his soul that will make him mortal once more, giving Harry the chance to defeat him and save wizard-kind from his tyranny.
And therein lies the problem, for me at least. Because wonderful as David Yates is as a director, and amazing as the cast, and the effects, are; because of the sheer volume of vital parts of the story that have been cut from the books to create the films, the plot just doesn’t flow as well as it could, and it all seems a little too rushed, a little too convenient. But let’s not get me started on that.
Where DH Part One was very heavy on emotion, and wilderness, and dialogue, Part Two is all action, from the word go – dragons, giants, vast spiders and enchanted suits of armour join the battle of good vs evil as Voldemort and his Death Eaters attack Hogwarts to kill every man, woman and child that stand in their path to Harry Potter – as we know, neither can live while the other survives, and Voldemort is quite adamant that he’ll be living forever.
For me, Rupert Grint has made every one of the eight Potter films a joy, and this one is no exception. His comic timing, his thorough understanding of the character he plays, make Ron Weasley the star of every part of the eight-film franchise, and thank God for him, because his wingmen, Fred and George, played by James and Oliver Phelps, barely get a look in this time – a great loss to the spectacle.
I’m told I’m a harsh critic, and I know my expectations were high. All around me, viewers were cheering, screaming and sobbing, so on every level that it should, I guess DHP2 hits the spot, it was just a little lacking in what-could-have-been for me.
No matter. I’m sure over time it’ll work its magic and I’ll grow to love it every bit as much as the books that are so close to my heart.